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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Lung volume reduction surgery

04/22/2008

Question:

My husband had fluid accumulating around his right lung for which he was having drawn out with a needle. But the last time he was to have it done, at least 4 yrs. ago, they could not get any and told him it had jelled. Nothing more has been done. Why did this fluid jell? My husband is stubborn, has resigned himself to this and just keeps pushing himself but I want to know is there a way to help him? His breathing is so labored. He is 66 and works 40 hours a week at a very physical job. Needless to say he is always tired. Is it true that this fluid accumulates around the lung and not in it?

Answer:

What you are describing appears be a pleural effusion that has become "loculated". A pleural effusion refers to fluid that builds up around the outside of the lung. Usually it is "free-flowing" and can be drained, but if there is a lot of inflammation it can become gel-like and difficult to remove (loculated). If the fluid is loculated, it can restrict the lung on the same side and make breathing difficult. Surgery to remove the loculation can be done in certain circumstances. Your husband should consider being evaluated by a pulmonary specialist.

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Response by:

Mahasti   Rittinger, RRT Mahasti Rittinger, RRT
Clinical Program Manager of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University